Firefighters warn people to ‘think carefully’ about buying hoverboards

Firefighters in Wiltshire are warning people to think carefully before buying popular ‘hoverboards’ as Christmas presents amid fire safety fears.

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Major safety concerns have been raised about the batteries, plugs, cables and chargers within some of the models on sale.

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National Trading Standards has already detained over 15,000 products from 17,000 tested, and a number of major retailers – including Amazon, Argos, Tesco and John Lewis – have removed hoverboards from sale as a precaution.

Many of those which failed testing were found to have non-compliant plugs without fuses, which increases the risk of the device overheating, exploding or catching fire.

A number of fires have already been reported nationally where hoverboards on charge have caught alight.

A recent hoverboard fire © London Fire Brigade
A recent hoverboard fire © London Fire Brigade

Home safety manager Neil Chamberlain said: “Hoverboards might be the ‘must –have’ present this Christmas but we have serious concerns that some products on sale are non-compliant, therefore making them potentially unsafe and a fire risk.”

He added: “With any electrical item, one of the biggest fire hazards is the use of fake or sub-standard battery chargers, which are becoming ever more prevalent. With so many people now using mobile phones, MP3 players and even e-cigarettes, it can be tempting to save a bit of money and buy a non-branded charger, but these are often made with poor quality components that fail to meet UK safety regulations.”

Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service has these top tips:

• Before buying any electrical item, check the Electrical Safety First recall list at www.wiltsfire.gov.uk/productrecalls;

• If you already own a hoverboard, or have bought one as a Christmas gift, make sure you use the charger provided. Never leave the device charging unattended and do not leave it to charge overnight. Check the plug, as many faulty devices have had a ‘clover’ shaped plug;

• For any electrical item, only use the charger provided with the device or a suitably branded replacement. Cheaper ‘generic’ chargers can lead to devices overheating;

• When buying electrical items, including hoverboards, look out for the CE mark that indicates chargers comply with European Safety standards;

• Never overload plug sockets;

• Make sure you have at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home, which are tested monthly.

More home fire safety advice can be found at: www.wiltsfire.gov.uk/safetyinthehome.